December 24, 2016

End of the year musings...

I feel like this year sped by without much fanfare, even though it brought one large change in lifestyle. 

We live on and cruise our sailboat, Denali Rose, full-time again, and maintain an annual slip in Wrangell, Alaska, while we continue to explore the 'Inside Passage'... 

After leaving Wrangell last year at the beginning of December, stopping in Anchorage to honor my Father's passing, we went back to our house in Fairbanks.  

Yearling moose in the driveway.
And this guy with antlers on only his right side...
[And from now on he is what I will think of whenever I order a half-rack of ribs...]

I was grateful that the winter was a mild one, and we spent the days doing odd jobs inside the house [and watching football...] to prepare for selling it sometime in the spring/summer.

I didn't have much snow shoveling all winter, yay!

...Less shoveling compared to last winter anyway... [30-Sep-2015; 2nd snowfall...]

We contacted a realtor in the spring, Monica Dallas, (she did a wonderful job), and had her tour the house to give us feedback on what fix-ups would be cost effective, appeal to buyers, and make the most sense. The deck on the house wasn't in the best of shape when Bill purchased it, and it was not doing very well now. Bill wanted to either, sell with a caveat, or just take it off. Monica was adamant that it was a prime selling feature, to leave it on, and paint it. That saga took on a life of it's own....

We couldn't just repaint it, because we didn't want it to look like we were trying to cover it up, or hide something. Bill started at one end, and began replacing planking on top and the stairway, while I started painting the railing, and posts. 

Old weathered red to brown.

Replaced planks with new.

We bought a special deck paint, Behr Deckover, which requires several rain free days to apply, so we chose our weather window, and got started. First you have to use a special wood cleaner, scrub it in, rinse, and then wait at least 24hours for it to dry before you can paint. We did the backside of the wrap-around deck first, then the near side, and finally the front, and steps. It took days to apply, because it's not like a regular, easy flow liquid, it's more like painting with chocolate pudding, and you really have to press it in.

Spraying on the cleaner, and using the pressure washer to rinse.

Rolling the paint onto the deck, and pressing it into the wood.

The topside of the deck looked great when we were finished.

It's has an anti-skid feel to it as well.

A reminder not to use the front door!

Now lets look at the underside... [Which was completed before we did the top...] There were a few joists  that needed shoring up.

All of the light colored ones are new.
The hanging brackets with horizontal rollers are kayak racks we built long ago- there is also a second set not showing here...

Front support beams were replaced, and new hardware added.

An old stairway to nowhere was removed entirely.

A bit of touch up paint for the new areas, and basically, a brand new deck that will last another 20 years. Oh well, moving on......

We had a pony wall between the kitchen and living room that needed a finishing touch. We bought some unfinished bead board, painted it, and put it up with some oak trim. Done.

Looking good

We sanded, and painted the doors, added trim in places that needed it, and staged the house for potential buyers. 

We never used this door, it usually had something in front of it.

Front door

Pellet stove [We will miss this!]

I think this is goofy, but whatever works......

Nice planter on the deck.

Up goes the for sale signs... this is really happening. We decided not to do anything with the siding, as Bill put it, "...the buyer needs something to do..."

It's official.

One of two pieces of furniture left. Everything else is sold.

We made ourselves scarce, as people came almost everyday to look at it. 

Then I took off a few days to join my family at Big Lake. Bill stayed home to look after things.

The usual fun and games at Big Lake...

A treat to have cousins from Iowa join us in Alaska!

The gang in attendance. 

Whatever we did worked, the house sold in nine days, with a full price offer. Now comes all of the inspections, and paperwork. That gave us a few more chores, we had committed to finishing the new heating system, and the septic system failed it's test. 

New septic system going in behind the house.

All finished, nothing glamorous here.

The new furnace was tiny, about the size of a filing cabinet, and we had to finish installing the pex tubing for the floor heating, and insulate it. None of this was fun, especially the area in the "crawl space", where you can't stand up. We also had to pull out two old boilers, since the last time the boiler was replaced they left the old one in there. Very HEAVY! [The only access is through a trap door in the master walk-in closet...]

Finished plumbing the radiant heat...

...and finished installing the new boiler...

We owe a huge thank you to our friend Rory, who helped us out with this project. We couldn't have finished it without him! [Or, he would still be putting up with us if he hadn't...]

Bill unstrapping a [heavy] piece of furnace from the dolly in the truck bed.

Bill had to pound apart the old boilers in order to get them out, heft them up narrow stairs, (on a dolly), roll them out the door, and up the ramp into the truck, while keeping the old rusty water from getting on anything. (like white carpet) I helped some. 

The next phase was getting completely packed up and out of the house and garage. I thought we had done a pretty good job of downsizing, but I was wrong. It is amazing how much stuff one accumulates, and how you just keep finding it. I never want to do that again. In the future, I will think hard before I buy anything. 

Bill had previously insulated our new white trailer, reinforced the roof for snow load, and wired so it can become our portable workshop. [With its own 10kw generator...] We loaded it up with the things we were keeping, including the remnants of Bills woodshop...  [ Divesting himself of the majority of his machinery and equipment was the most difficult part of this move for Bill... [A few of many machines are represented below...]

Felder combo machine; sliding table saw, 16" jointer/planer, 1.25" spindle shaper.
Bill kept this one... it is installed in the white trailer ready to use once we remove the rest of our junk from the trailer...
25" widebelt sander, etc., etc.

Our friends Rory, Colleen, and their family came to the rescue again, and spent days with us, hauling, boxing, and making sure we would get the job done. 

We are forever in O'debt!

We started out this organized, it didn't end up this way.

Another load of belongings to be given away...

Done, we no longer live here.

We moved into our camper on the truck, hitched up the trailer, and drove over to Rory and Colleen's house to live for a few days while we finished a few loose ends in Fairbanks, and prepared to drive to Haines, Alaska to catch the ferry to Wrangell... 

Another good friend, John, let us park the trailer at his place of business until we were ready to leave Fairbanks. Thanks John, it was a big help! (He is actually also storing the couch and recliner, since neither sold before we left, thanks for that too!) 

Gus isn't sure he likes living in the camper, it moves occasionally.

We left Fairbanks, and had near perfect weather on our drive to Haines to get on the Alaskan Ferry that would take us to Wrangell. (no snow, or ice on the roads) I love this drive, the scenery is spectacular. I didn't take very many pictures though, because I had the flu most of the way.

This is just before the descent into Haines, Alaska.
Tatshenshini - Alsek Park, Canada

We put the cat shark beds on the bench seat in the back of the cab, and with their harnesses, and leashes on, the cats pretty much rode along inside them. Once in awhile, they would look out the window, but then get back in. It's comfy, and safe.

Are we there yet?...

Gus got spooked when the Canadian customs guy spoke to Bill through the open window, and he scrambled into Elsie's shark with her. Elsie was not amused. "This is a one seater shark, buster! Moooom! Gus is touching me!"

Since it was October, the usual tourist spots are all closed. We parked in pull-outs along the highway for our overnights. 

A beautiful place to be.

Along the Chilkat Eagle Preserve, almost to Haines Alaska.
It was sunny on the way into Haines, and we found a pull out just beyond the ferry terminal to spend the night. Our ferry was scheduled for the next day, but they delayed us two more days due to mechanical issues, and they ended up swapping us to a different boat.

We woke up to this, dodged the snow until we were safely in Haines.

We spent a few unplanned days in Haines due to ferry delays... This is our base camp next to the water... we unhooked the trailer to do some sightseeing. 
[Not that our base camp was so bad, but there is a microbrewery in town...]

In our lane, ready to load onto the ferry.

We had to back down the ramp, and fit into our assigned space. 

By this time, Bill wasn't feeling very well either, and we spent most of our time in our bunks, sleeping.
[Bill isn't really with child, but his fleece jacket blanket sure gives that appearance in this shot...]

You can't take your animals out, or up into passenger areas. They have to stay in your vehicle, or in kennels at the bottom of the stairs. You are allowed to visit them at specified times of the trip. I went down once to make sure the cats were okay, food/water/litter box. They didn't like the strange noises, but mostly hunkered down, and waited it out.

"When will this be over?"
Gus is used to being actively involved in everything... This commute was tedious for him...

I am sooooooooo bored...    A r e   w e   t h e r e   y e t...?

It's raining, we don't feel well, but we're home. 

Heritage Harbor rainbow greets us. 
[Photo taken from where the rig is parked, below...]
We temporarily parked the rig in the trailered boat launch area while we move back [and forth...] onto Denali Rose.

We haven't been here in close to a year. Our friend and caretaker, Kim, checked in on Denali Rose weekly. She was fine, except for the green stuff growing on her outsides. The inside was warm, dry, and mildew/mold free. We attribute that to air circulation, and a great dehumidifier. There are technical posts about that if you are interested. 

Patiently awaiting our return.

We're settling back into boat life, and Wrangell life. Small town happenings for Halloween.

My decoration contribution for Halloween.

Dressing up, and trick or treating at the businesses downtown.

Turkey from the grill.

And Christmas.

Roasting marshmallows in the street.

Lighting of the town Christmas tree.

We are preparing for guests to arrive the day after Christmas. The weather hasn't been very good, rain/snow, heavy winds, so we haven't made it off of the dock yet. We're hoping for a reprieve while they are here, and at least be able to take folks out for a day of fishing, or just enjoy being on the water. 

I took this as an opportunity to get into gear, and get some sewing done. I re-upholstered the v-berth cushions. The old red velour was original to our 1983 boat, and was worn. The bottom material of the cushions always retained moisture as well, and really needed to be replaced before we have more people sleep in there. The tops were redone with Sunbrella upholstery, and the bottoms are done in Phifertex to allow them to breathe. 

Old decor

New cushion coverings.

I had time to do half of the lower dinette. The cushions are now covered in Ultra-suede, and I added a stripe of the nautical fish to match the v-berth. The other half will have to wait till after the holidays.

Old decor

New cushion coverings.
And just because, I shined the brass.

I like shiny better than salty patina.

Ship's Bell

Bill is doing much more important things. He is making sure the batteries charge properly, and has changed all of the vital fluids, anodes, filters, etc. in the diesel engines (Ford Lehman 90hp main and 10kw Panda generator.) We started them for the first time in a year, and they purr. Bill even loaded the main engine by putting it in gear while we were double-tied at the dock; the prop wash was impressive... [We recently had the local diver check and clean the prop...]

We're decorated and ready for Christmas:

Tree; check. 

Charlie Brown would be proud...

Lights; check. 

Window treatments; check.

The birds also contributed to Donna's efforts...

Stockings; check. 

Presents; check. 

All ready for unwrapping.

And even more gifts...

Family arriving the day after Christmas; check.

Friends arriving the same day family departs; check.

We're warm, healthy, happy, and wishing you the same.

Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!

Sunrise over the harbor. [...or view from our pilothouse AKA solarium...]
Bill and Donna


  1. Wow, you guys have had a busy year. All the best for 2017!

    Stephanie @ SV CAMBRIA

  2. That was alot of work! Don't you love it when someone else reaps the benefits of all the work you've had to do to sell? We had that happen with our first house. It will probably happen with this one in the future. I love your cats! I so wish I could have a cat on board.

    1. Yes, I have a new plan... We deserve to have the good stuff. From now on, we fix up stuff for us. The cats are definitely a source of constant entertainment. They both arrived at our door to be adopted, (different years), we have no idea where, or who they came from. We're glad they stayed.

  3. Wow - you guys did so much work and such a nice job on the house! I love the cat pictures - they're so cute :-)

    Merry Christmas and all the best for 2017 and the adventures that the new year will bring you.


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